If you thought 2016 would see the end of tragic celebrity deaths, then I am afraid I have some bad news for you. We're only a month into the New Year, and we have already had to say goodbye to a series of icons from the screen -- both big and small. The latest addition to the list is one of the most heart-wrenching, as we have just learned that Perry Mason's Barbara Hale has passed away.

The announcement of Barbara Hale's passing came from her son William Katt on his official Facebook account. According to the post, she died "peacefully" at her home in Sherman Oaks, California on January 26, with many of her closest loved ones at her side. Although the death of the 94-year-old screen icon is still incredibly recent, early reports indicate that she died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Barbara Hale was unquestionably best known for her role as Della Street on the Perry Mason television series. Throughout the run of the series, she appeared as the legal secretary on over 270 episodes -- thus solidifying her place as screen legend and icon. Following the conclusion of the series, she would go on to reprise her role in 30 separate Perry Mason television movies between 1985 and 1995. The role of Della Street garnered consistent critical praise for Barbara Hale, and she even earned an Emmy Award for playing the part in 1959.

Perry Mason Barbara Hale

It's not hard to imagine why people loved her portrayal of Della. Just look at her dynamic with Raymond Burr on the series:

Of course, Barbara Hale's screen legacy extends far beyond her work on Perry Mason. She was an active presence in film, television, and radio throughout the entirety of her career, and she made notable silver screen appearances in movies such as Lorna Doone, and The Jackpot.

That said,Barbara Hale had most certainly slowed down in recent years. At 94-years-old, she solidified her legacy as a Hollywood icon long ago. The actress went through many personal struggles in her life -- from losing her husband Bill Williams to cancer, to overcoming her own battle with the disease. Throughout it all, she remained a symbol of Hollywood's golden age. She is survived by her children.

It is with a heavy heart that we must, unfortunately, say goodbye to Barbara Hale. Although she may be gone, we will most certainly never be forgotten. R.I.P, Ms. Hale; you have earned it.

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